Two 1-inch (2.5 cm) wood slats
5-watt, 12-volt solar panel
Soldering iron and solder ¼-inch (6.35-mm) plastic mono plug
Cigarette-lighter Y adapter
12-volt 12AH rechargeable battery
Solar DC charger controller
4 feet (1.2 m) of 18-gauge wire
15-amp DC panel meter
Two female terminal disconnects
Check online to discover your home’s latitude. This is the angle at which you’ll mount your solar panel.
Cut six pieces of plywood for the box. The lid should be slightly larger than the solar panel. Trim the top edges of the side, front, and back pieces to the appropriate angle. Cut the bottom to fit.
Drill a hole in each side panel for airflow: one in the back panel for the controller and battery cords, and one in the lid for the solar panel’s cord. Then nail the wooden slats to the lid and mount the solar panel to it. Assemble the box with a hinge for the lid.
Snip off the cigarette-lighter plug and solder the ¼-inch (6.35-mm) mono plug onto the Y adapter. Insert the mono plug into the controller’s 12-volt output.
Connect all four power leads from the battery and the solar panel to the controller’s input terminals. Hook up the 15-amp DC panel meter to the controller’s input terminal for the panel.
Test all connections with the meter. Connect the red wire with a female-terminal disconnect to the battery’s positive terminal, and connect the black wire to the negative terminal.
Place the station in the sun with the solar panel pointed south (north if you’re in the southern hemisphere). Plug something in!
This project was excerpted from The Big Book Of Hacks: 264 Amazing DIY Tech Projects, a compendium of ingenious and hilarious projects for aspiring makers. Buy it here. And for more amazing hacks, go here.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.